Panama City Beach in Florida is more than just a seaside town. While its beaches are the biggest attractions here, a vacation in Panama City Beach (PCB) means a lot of amusement and activities for people of all ages! There are wetland areas you can hike through, a dune lake to see, & sunsets to catch, among other things.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Panama City Beach, Florida.
1. Enjoy a full-blown beach vacation in Panama City Beach
With 27 miles of sandy beaches to call its own, Panama City Beach has a lot to offer the beach vacationer. The beaches are made of white sand and have tons of ways to access them, making it easy to get to the sand and water from any part of town.
The soft-sand & the waters of the Gulf of Mexico make it impossible to resist some relaxation on the beach. However, if you’d like to pack in some activity, there are areas that are great for swimming & snorkeling. If you’re visiting with fur babies, there’s even a dog beach where they can run around and enjoy the seaside!
There are also the MB Miller Pier & Russel-Fields Pier from which you can fish or just use to stroll on as you take in the seaside views.
2. Explore St Andrews’s State Park
To further appreciate the bounties of nature that Panama City Beach has been blessed with, a place you must check out is St. Andrew’s State Park!
Flanked by The Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew’s Bay, St. Andrew’s State Park enjoys around 2 miles of beach, making it a really fun thing to do in Panama City Beach. You’ll also find several hiking & biking trails here. As you enjoy the environment and the water here, you’re likely to chance upon some of the rich fauna of the area. You also might see alligators, deer, birds, & butterflies.
This state park is a good place from where you can set off on a tour of Shell Island.
3. Set foot on the unspoiled Shell Island
If you like visiting quiet & undeveloped places, you should see Shell Island for yourself. Shell Island is a Barrier Island. You’ll find some more white sand here on this 7-mile stretch of land.
You won’t find restaurants, restrooms, or even picnic tables here. Instead you’ll be seeing different kinds of shells & sand dollars on the beach. Look out into the water and you might even see some dolphins! Snorkel around here and you can see the sea turtles & other underwater living creatures, too.
In the late spring months and in summer, you can take advantage of the shuttle boats that leave to the island from St. Andrew’s State Beach. Or you can rent pontoons or jet skis to get you onto Shell Island.
4. Hike though Conservation Park
Yet another thing to do in Panama City Beach to see more of the ecosystem of the area is go to Panama City Beach Conservation Park. Situated west of the downtown area and around 10 miles away, this park aims at conserving the wetland area and the avifauna around here.
There are around 24 miles of nature trails & boardwalks for you to walk through in this 3000-acre park. There are restrooms & picnic tables available at this park.
5. Go see Florida’s largest Dune Lake
The state’s largest Dune Lake, Lake Powell, can be seen when you visit Camp Helen State Park. Situated west of St. Andrew’s State Park, the park is comprised of 180 acres of land and gives visitors opportunities to swim, hike, fish, & birdwatch.
Another thing to see here is the brown water of the dune lake making its way out to sea and slowly mixing with the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
6. See Panama City Beach from the SkyWheel
After you’ve seen some the natural beauty of Panama City Beach, you can go see the natural & manmade features of the area from its Observation Wheel – one of the most popular things to do in Panama City Beach!
Called the SkyWheel Panama City Beach, the Observation Wheel stands at Pier Park. It has 30 air-conditioned gondolas and runs all year round. A ride on the 58-meter wheel will treat you to views of the seaside town with all its parks, high rises, & the Gulf of Mexico.
7. Play in Shipwreck Island Water Park
If you want more adventure, there’s Shipwreck Island Water Park with its water slides, go carts, & arcade games. It has activities for people of all ages and is popular with families visiting this seaside resort in Florida. It usually is an attraction that first-time visitors to Panama City Beach generally don’t leave out.
The park that dates back to 1976 has its rides and other activities spread over 20 acres. It’s mostly open in the summer months along with a few weekends in May & August.
8. Go on a Pirate Cruise
Another unique thing to do in Panama City Beach is its Pirate Cruise. The Sea Dragon tour takes place in what is supposed to be a modern version of the pirate ships that operated in these parts in the past.
During this 2-hour cruise, one gets to play pirate, and play with water guns, do sword fights, treasure hunts, & other activities that are family-friendly. Even some canons will be fired during the trip. And pirate souvenirs can be purchased on board.
Snacks & drinks will be served and you even have chances to see dolphins, and watch a sunset if you choose an evening cruise.
9. Pet some Wolves at Seacrest Wolf Preserve
Yet another unique activity you can do while you’re in Panama City Beach is to go see some wolves up close. Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley is a wolf sanctuary where you can pet some friendly wolves and get to know the animals better.
You can choose to go on one of their group tours where you learn more about the wolves or the more recommended VIP tours for a better experience. The facility also has some other animals like skunks, foxes, & raccoons.
10. Have a look inside the fun-museums in town
Panama City Beach has some museums that pack a lot of wonder & fun into your beach vacation.
One of the places to go for these is Ripley’s Believe it or Not. The one in this part of Florida is housed in a structure that looks like a wrecked ship. In it you can see odd, surprising, and strange exhibits, and pick up lots of interesting tidbits. In it is also a mirror maze, laser race facility, & a 7D Moving theater.
Across the road from Ripley’s you have WonderWorks in its signature upside down building. There’s a lot of learning & amusement here. You can also visit Man in the Sea Museum, which is dedicated to sharing the history of diving. You can see things like submarine modules, suits, helmets, other diving-related instruments, & technology that have been used to explore & study the underwater world.